Sierra First ISR Soldier Selected for SAMC Membership
Earning the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award—Goal accomplished.
That was a goal set last year by Staff Sgt. Pablo R. Sierra, III, from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, when he was named the USAISR 2015 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Just a few days after he relinquished his title to the 2015 NCO of the Year, the San Antonio native learned that he was the only candidate within the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command this quarter to be selected to earn the prestigious award—the first NCO ever to earn it from the USAISR.
"Joining the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club is a huge honor itself, but it is definitely not the end—it's actually the beginning," said Sierra, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the Dental and Craniofacial Research Directorate. "It means that it is my turn to do my part in carrying the torch forward and helping others to realize their potential as well."
Sierra joins an elite club of NCOs who represent the characteristics of Sgt. Audie Murphy's leadership and caring for Soldiers.
According to the Sgt. Audie Murphy Club website, induction into the club is for noncommissioned officers who exemplify leadership characterized by personal concern for the needs, training, development and welfare of Soldiers and concern for families of Soldiers.
The club was started in 1986 in Fort Hood, Texas, to honor Sgt. Audie Murphy who was the most decorated U.S. combat Soldier (including the Medal of Honor) during World War II. Murphy was wounded three times and served in nine major campaigns throughout Europe and is credited for wounding, capturing or killing 240 enemy soldiers.
During his three years of active service (1942-1945), Murphy rose from the rank of private to earning a battlefield commission as a second lieutenant. In 1945, after being released from active duty, Murphy moved to Hollywood where he acted in 44 films to include To Hell and Back which was based on a book he wrote about his experience during WWII. Murphy died in a plane crash at the age of 46, but his legacy continues to inspire Soldiers today.
Sierra enlisted in the Army eight-and-a-half years ago and said that he wanted to earn this honor to pay homage to the NCOs who paved the way for him and to prove to Soldiers that he is willing to "lead from the front" (a term coined by Murphy) and pave the way for them.
"I realized a long time ago that life is short," he said. "I've learned that I have to seize any positive opportunity that presents itself and that I need to appreciate those who serve to my left and right. I am a product of outstanding NCO leadership and would not be here without them."
Sierra also attributes his success to the support of his family.
"They are my motivation for everything that I do," he said.
To prepare for the rigorous board, Sierra said that he studied Army publications for many hours while also gaining knowledge from other experienced leaders around him. The advice that he gives NCOs who want to earn this honor is simple.
"Study straight from the source and be bold enough to ask questions from those who are subject matter experts and those with more experience," Sierra said. "I would like to thank my family, unit leadership, and the USAISR NCOs who always push me to do better and have provided me the support that I needed to get me through."